Browns Ward A True Team Player

When the Cleveland Browns were in need of financial relief this offseason, cornerback Denzel Ward stepped up to provide it. In late February, the Browns were about $7 million over the NFL salary cap.

Cleveland general manager Andrew Berry worked with Ward to restructure his contract to help alleviate some of the club’s monetary burden. The restructuring of Ward’s pact was highlighted by a conversion of $14.1 million of Ward’s base salary into signing bonus money.

From the team’s point of view, the move cleared more than $11 million in space from the club’s salary cap structure. The restructuring also benefited Ward, because he’ll be paid that $14.1 million immediately.

Mostly, though, he’s more concerned about making the Browns a better team and moving the needle on their Super Bowl hopes closer to where they can become a reality.

“We set a great foundation last year,” Ward told ESPN Cleveland. “It was good. I think we all kind of realize that we can’t just pick up where we left off from last year. We gotta pick it up and still start over.

“We can’t just think that’s gonna automatically click and we’re gonna pick up where we left off. We’ve got to continue to take the necessary steps to build and grow this team.”

Check your favorite Ohio betting app and you’ll see that the Browns are getting a lot of love to again fit into the NFL picture as a playoff club and a Super Bowl contender.

Although they were a playoff team last season, the ending was bittersweet for the Browns. They were crushed 45-14 by the Houston Texans in the AFC Wild Card round.

“I definitely didn’t like the taste from that last game, the showing that we put out there on the field,” Ward said. “That’s why I think a lot of guys are in here now, ready to get back to work, get back to it and work toward our goals of making it to the playoffs and extending our season.”

Ward Part Of NFL’s Best Defense

Cleveland was rated the No. 1 defense in the NFL last season, allowing an NFL-low 4.6 yards per play. Starting cornerback Ward of Macedonia, who played his high school ball at Nordonia, is a key element in the configuration of this NFL-leading defense. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2023.

“We’re number one but we weren’t perfect out there at all,” Ward said. “One of the areas we can improve on is definitely takeaways. We need more takeaways, getting our hands on the ball.

“I think our biggest thing was we were playing fast and we were playing together.”

One of the reasons Cleveland’s defense succeeds at the level that it does is certainly the presence of EDGE rusher Myles Garrett. Last season’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Garrett accounted for 14 sacks and 17 tackles for loss.

Cleveland’s cornerbacks are another vital element in the ability to shut down opposing offenses. Between them, Ward, Greg Newsome II and Martin Emerson were good for eight interceptions.

“I feel we’re the best corner group in the NFL,” Ward said. “I feel that we went out there and showed that. This is a new year and we gotta go out there and show that again. That’s what we’re doing now, putting that work in to be able to go out and show why we’re the best group.

“You can never have enough great corners on a team. Guys go down and just having that ability to be able to match up with any team across the board, whether that’s inside in the slot with Greg, or outside with me and Martin. We’re definitely in the ideal situation.”

On a personal level, Ward set out to add bulk to his frame in preparation for the 2024 season.

“For me personally, during the offseason I try to build my body up, get my body weight up,” Ward explained. “I’m heavier right now. I know I’m gonna lose some weight and some muscle throughout the season, because it’s a long season just wearing down on the body.

“I’ve definitely got my weight up to a weight I like coming in. Just keeping my speed and my power up. That’s definitely one thing I focused on in the offseason.”

Browns Adding More Local Talent

Among the offseason additions to the Cleveland roster was cornerback Justin Hardee.  A special teams fiend, like Ward, Hardee is a Northeast Ohio guy. He was born and raised in Cleveland.

Ward has never left the Buckeye State in pursuit of his football dreams. He played his college ball at Ohio State before joining the Browns.

Ward and Hardee have already discussed their shared memories of growing up in Northeast Ohio.

“He’s a big Cleveland guy,” Ward said of Hardee. “He’s gonna be a great addition to the team. An ace on the special teams.

“They did a great job getting him here. I think he’s definitely gonna be a guy that gives us some great production out there.”

Ward doesn’t think the Browns should stop there in pursuit of area talent.

“I told them we need to get more Buckeyes in here,” Ward said. “You can’t go wrong with any Buckeyes on the team.”

Browns Looking Ahead Excitedly

It’s a known fact that the Browns, Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars are the only AFC teams that have never played in a Super Bowl game.

Ward believes this Browns squad is creating something special in Cleveland.

“We’re building that camaraderie and that chemistry and I think that’s gonna take us a long way again,” Ward said. “The offseason’s pretty long. You’re not really with the guys and you’re all kind of doing your own thing.

“I think we got a lot of hunger with the guys that we got back. We got some great additions that came on to the team.”

At the same time, he knows that they have to act now, before their window of opportunity closes.

“I’m going on into Year 7 and I feel like I just came into the league, so I feel like time is definitely flying,” Ward said. “You’ve definitely got to take advantage of the opportunities that you are given.”

Denzel Ward played his high school football at Nordonia. (By Erik Drost –, CC BY 2.0,

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